Tim dutifully posted many, many months ago with his thoughts on Ranganathan. I can barely say the guy’s name, let alone contemplate further theorizing on and updating of his thoughts. I got so overwhelmed by the idea that I decided to wait to post until everyone was so desperate for more discussion on this blog that they didn’t care about whether I responded to Ranganathan or not. I think that time is here.

I’ve been taking an Online Communities class at school and a lot of what we’ve been discussing is what defines an online community. This is an interesting topic to me because I think communities are constantly shifting and its sometimes really difficult to determine who is in a community and who is not. And one person may think he or she is part of a community while another community member might not think so. This dynamic makes it hard to define an online community since it often means something different to everyone. So I’ve been trying to decide on the characteristics of a online community that need to be present in order for me to define it as an online community. Here’s what I think but I’d like to hear from others. An online community is a group of people:

1. with some notion of membership (possibly defined differently by different members)
2. with a shared purpose or goal
3. with communication among members
4. with a communication structure mediated by technology

What does the community think?